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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/295

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SPOLIATION OF THE FALLS OF NIAGARA

but on his map of 1632 he represents a long series of rapids, located at the end of Lake Ontario, and says concerning them, "A very high fall of water at the end of the rapids of St. Louis (a name given to Lake Ontario) where many kinds of fish in descending are stunned." That the river was famous among the Indians, on account of the falls, and possibly among a few "Courreurs de bois" and missionary priests, is certain, as Father Lalement, who first mentions its name (Onguaahra), speaks of it as "so celebrated." This was in 1641, yet he does not mention the falls. In 1645, Dr. Gendron wrote a letter about the falls, but this was not published until 1660; in the meanwhile (1648) Father Ragueneau mentions them as occurring on Niagara River. This was the beginning of the historic period.

3. Approaching Peril to Niagara Falls.—The Falls of Niagara are now entering another and much more critical epoch in their history. The time has not arrived when their use has become a necessity, and even in their spoliation, other and larger interests are at stake. Niagara is a world possession, yet its very existence is imperilled by the greed of a few persons, or for the exigencies of politicians.

4. Commission for Investigation.—Extended operations were already at work upon the falls, when Dr. Robert Bell, Canada's most distinguished geologist, at the head of the Geological Survey, commissioned me, three years ago, to make a complete investigation upon the recession of Niagara Falls, so as to record the undisturbed work of nature, and also to determine how far the falls could be diverted without bringing about unforeseen disasters.

5. Opinions of Power Diversion.—At that time, in the opinion of some serious observers, the falls were imperilled, and Dr. John Clarke, state geologist of New York, pointed out the impending destruction of the American Falls. There were also many sensational magazine articles, bearing on the same subject, but in these no data were given by which to form judicious opinions. On the other hand, those interested in the diversion of the water insisted that no serious damage would be done. Personally I had no opinion whatever, though I regretted the disfigurement of the falls, through the structures erected by the power companies, one such being placed even beneath the cataract itself, inside the Park Reservation on the Canadian side, especially offensive as seen from the American side (shown in a succeeding plate, figure 8).

6. International Waterway Commission established for saving the Falls.—Before this time, the late Honorable Andrew H. Green had secured the passage through Congress of a bill, authorizing the establishment of an International Waterway Commission, his specific object being the preservation of Niagara Falls. Indeed it was for this same object that the International Park at Niagara had been established at an earlier date, largely through the efforts of the Earl of Dufferin,